Premier League clubs have agreed to a new set of rules aimed at clamping down on rogue owners. The measures, which include a formal human rights test for potential owners and directors, were approved at a recent shareholder meeting. The new rules will also see the Government’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations used as an “objective” test on potential owners. However, this will not affect the Saudi ownership of Newcastle or Qatari Sheikh Jassim’s potential takeover of Manchester United. All current owners and directors will be assessed on an annual basis.
The Premier League has also extended the list of criminal offences that will result in disqualification. The League’s ruling Board will now have the power to prevent any new directors or owners from being appointed if they are under investigation for a “disqualifying event”. Potential owners will also face an obligation to meet a published list of “Acquisition Materials” that must be provided to the League as part of the due diligence process.
The clampdown was part of a series of alterations to the current owners and directors test, ahead of the arrival of the Government’s proposed Independent Football Regulator. The measures were agreed “unanimously” by club bosses. The new rules will also see any individual with a 25 per cent stake in one club forbidden to hold more than 9.9 per cent of another Premier League outfit, reducing the threshold for what is deemed “control” of a club from the current 30 per cent.
Club chief executives will also be brought under the remit of the test, along with all senior club officials who sign critical regulatory documents. League chiefs will also have broader powers to take action against directors involved in insolvency actions. Anyone banned by the Charity Commission, FCA, Prudential Conduct Authority, HMRC and Gambling Commission will now also face the boot from Premier League club roles.
The new rules would have seen Roman Abramovich automatically expelled when he was placed on the Government sanctions list last year. The League has also agreed to publish the names of any individuals on a new banned list, updated every season. A Premier League spokesman said: “This will include offences involving violence, corruption, fraud, tax evasion and hate crimes.”
The clampdown on rogue owners is a welcome development for football fans who have seen a number of clubs suffer under poor ownership in recent years. The new rules will help to ensure that clubs are run by responsible owners who have the best interests of the club and its fans at heart. The Premier League’s decision to use the Government’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations as an “objective” test on potential owners is a particularly important development.
The Premier League is one of the most popular and lucrative football leagues in the world. It is therefore essential that it is run by responsible owners who are committed to the long-term success of their clubs. The new rules will help to ensure that this is the case and will provide greater protection for fans and clubs alike.